Wisconsin legalizes concealed weapons
By Alex Frantz
Wisconsin will become the 49th state to permit its citizens to carry concealed weapons.
2011 Wisconsin Act 35, also known as the concealed carry bill, will take effect the first of November.
Applications will be available through the Wisconsin Department of Justice (WDOJ).
The application fee will be around $50.
Approved applicants will be issued a concealed carry permit, enabling them to legally carry concealed weapons in public places for a period of five years.
Applicants will also be able to carry electronic weapons, such as tazers, that were previously illegal.
“The idea here is that it will allow citizens to provide for themselves a measure of self-defense in the event that they are mugged, or attacked, or held-up, or whatever the case may be,” George Waller, senior lecturer of political science, said.
Freshman Lisa Woehrer thinks the law will bring in revenue for Wisconsin.
“The $50 only goes towards your application to conceal and carry, but not everyone that applies will bepermitted and that money will be used by the state,” Woehrer said.
Proponents of the bill claim their legal right to carry, as guaranteed by the second amendment.
Others worry about the safety of society with more firearms.
“The fear is that when you have so many weapons in public settings, what is to protect against the possibility of people wrongly discharging their weapons in public,” Waller said.
Waller also states the accessibility of firearms to minors as another concern.
Freshman Lisa Woehrer would like for supporters of the law and the National Rifle Association (NRA) to provide education to communities.
“I am very disappointed as a long-standing member of the NRA that they haven’t addressed [the new law] publicly.
“I completely empathize with [with opponents]. Guns are scary and they do hurt people, but education dissipates fear,” she said.
Law advocates have eased these concerns by putting forth eligibility requirementsapplicants must meet to obtain a concealed carry permit.
These include being at least 21, a Wisconsin resident, able to legally possess a firearm and have proof of firearms training.
Standards for training programs will be put forward mid to late October.
WDOJ has identified several alternatives that meet training requirements.
These include military service or any Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hunter’s safety course.
More people are enrolling in these courses.
Some restrictions apply with the law under federal limitations, such as carrying a weapon within 1000 feet of an educational (K-12) facility, which is a felony.
National parks and lands are also protected by federal legislation.
State legislation outlines areas where concealed carry will be prohibited.
Such locations include law enforcement and correctional facilities, county, state, and federal courthouses and airports.
The University of Wisconsin Board Of Regents petitioned legislators to include public universities and colleges, such as the UW-Fox, as prohibited areas.
State legislators declined to include these regulations in the law.
Instead, state legislation enables colleges, universities, as well as local governments and private businesses to make the choice on whether or not to allow concealed carry.
“We can prohibit concealed carry by signing the building. Every entrance to the building bears a five by 7 inch sign saying that you cannot carry a concealed weapon,” UW-Fox’s interim campus executive officer and dean Andy Keogh, said.
The Board of Regents plans to prohibit concealed carry at both two-year and four-year UW campuses.
Students with permits holding weapons will not be allowed to carry inside campus buildings.
Weapons must be left in their vehicles.
Enforcement and regulation of these restrictions remains a topic of conversation on campus.
“If you come onto campus and the sign says, it’s [carrying weapons] prohibited, you are violating the law. We don’t know that, and we will have no way of determining that,” Keogh said.
Students who see a weapon on campus are told to avoid confronting the individual and notify faculty immediately.
While some may question campus security measures, Keogh sees little reason for alarm.
“I would be willing to bet a reasonable sum of money that there are people on campus every week with concealed weapons…there are just people who do that, all the time. And it’s not been a problem to this point,”
“I don’t imagine that on a campus like this there is going to be any significant difference from day to day because we have concealed carry legislation, “ Keogh said.